Pays de Gex, France, September 20, 2018 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Workers from multiple Venezuelan state enterprises mobilized on Tuesday and Wednesday, in Caracas, to protest against low wages and attacks against labor rights.
Active and retired workers from Venezuelan national electricity company CORPOELEC and state telecommunications company CANTV blocked Libertador Avenue, one of the principal arteries of Caracas, on Wednesday morning. One of the main complaints was against the new salary tables recently instituted by the Maduro government, which unify wages and eliminate raises based on skill levels or years of service.
The new salaries, together with service fee and transportation cost increases, are part of a comprehensive set of economic measures announced by the Venezuelan government to address the country’s deep economic crisis. These measures, launched on August 20, were headlined by a monetary reconversion, that saw five zeros dropped and the new currency pegged to the Petro cryptocurrency, and a massive devaluation of the exchange rate. New rules concerning foreign exchange have also been announced in recent weeks.
The government also implemented an increase of the minimum wage of over 3,000% which affected all public and private sector salaries. Nevertheless, concerns about the purchasing power of public sector salaries in light of spiraling inflation have persisted.
Jesus Conde, telecommunications worker from CANTV, told Aporrea that salaries also need to be reviewed to ensure that they are sufficient to support workers and their families. He emphasized that current wages are unacceptable in light of recent hikes in the state firm’s service rates.
“There have been adjustments of over 1000% in the prices of internet and mobile phone services, so we don’t understand why a global recovery plan cannot be discussed with the workers,” he stated.
Conde also highlighted Article 91 of the Venezuelan constitution, which states that the minimum wage should be pegged to the cost of the basic food basket.
Reynaldo Diaz, from the electrical workers trade union, told Union Radio that the new salaries will not help contain the exodus of skilled workers to the private sector and abroad, which will have a negative impact on the electricity service. He also called on Labor Minister Eduardo Piñate to honor collective bargaining agreements and review workers’ health benefits.
Meanwhile, earlier, on Tuesday, a group of active and retired Caracas Metro personnel mobilized in front of the company’s headquarters to demand answers concerning recent measures that have been taken.
Joined by workers from other sectors, they also made reference to Article 91 of the constitution and voiced concerns over attacks against collective bargaining as well as the imposition of a single wage, irrespective of qualifications or years of service.
Following several months in which it operated free of charge, the Caracas Metro has seen new transportation prices come into effect with the government’s Economic Recovery Plan. This will see every ride cost 0.50 Sovereign Bolivars, or US$0.005 at the parallel market rate. However, delays and long queues to purchase tickets have slowed down the implementation of the new prices.